Union members and allies turned out on Friday to support Steelworkers Local 9460 and the Minnesota Nurses Union. Both unions held complementary rallies during the day to call on Essentia to highlight various issues.
Members of USW 9460 who are covered by the Red Book contract are currently in negotiations with Essentia, and were out at 7 a.m. to call for a fair contract. Patient safety and other issues are the main sticking points. The MNA rally officially started around midday, but individual nurses coming off their shifts stopped by organizing check-in tables to add their support. Last year, MNA nurses at Essentia and throughout Minnesota fought for new contracts to improve staffing to retain nurses and protect patient care. While hospital executives refused the solutions needed, nurses won limited concessions meant to give them more input in the staffing process. The MNA is continuing to push for safe staffing levels.
Union workers at Essentia took the opportunity to highlight their issues as all eyes were on the company's grand opening for its new building. The company held an open house for the public as well, and people arriving for tours were also treated to chants and signs before they went in. Some wore supportive union stickers during their tour.
Read more in the next issue of the Labor World.